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[nim-buh l] /ˈnɪm bəl/
adjective, nimbler, nimblest.
quick and light in movement; moving with ease; agile; active; rapid:
nimble feet.
quick to understand, think, devise, etc.:
a nimble mind.
cleverly contrived:
a story with a nimble plot.
Origin of nimble
late Middle English
before 1000; late Middle English nymel, earlier nemel, Old English nǣmel capable, equivalent to nǣm- (variant stem of niman to take; see nim1) + -el -le
Related forms
nimbleness, noun
nimbly, adverb
unnimble, adjective
unnimbleness, noun
unnimbly, adverb
1. lively, brisk, swift. 2. alert.
1. clumsy. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for nimbleness
Historical Examples
  • The ever gay and lively Boz, always in spirits, called up many a happy scene, and gave the pen a certain airiness and nimbleness.

    John Forster Percy Hethrington Fitzgerald
  • Well, you shall acquire your nimbleness and strength by playing what is worth playing.

    Michael E. F. Benson
  • His great defect as a speaker has been a certain want of nimbleness and readiness.

  • And I rubbed my hands, instantly pleased with myself and my nimbleness.

    The God of Love Justin Huntly McCarthy
  • It is nimbleness without grace, and alertness without intelligence.

    Tono Bungay H. G. Wells
  • No man ever envies us the nimbleness by which we can elude logic and get at truth?

    The Joys of Being a Woman Winifred Kirkland
  • For genius, maybe, is but a nimbleness of collocation of such hitherto unconsidered trifles.

    Journeys to Bagdad Charles S. Brooks
  • Her nimbleness and skill in dodging filled us with amazement.

    Master Reynard Jane Fielding
  • Such apparent contradictoriness is everywhere in his work, but along with it goes a curious ingenuity and nimbleness of mind.

    Among Famous Books John Kelman
  • They are lively and agile; they climb, run, and leap with as much grace as nimbleness.

    The Desert World Arthur Mangin
British Dictionary definitions for nimbleness


agile, quick, and neat in movement: nimble fingers
alert; acute: a nimble intellect
Derived Forms
nimbleness, noun
nimbly, adverb
Word Origin
Old English nǣmel quick to grasp, and numol quick at seizing, both from niman to take
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for nimbleness



"agile, light-footed," c.1300, nemel, from Old English næmel "quick to grasp" (attested but once), related to niman "to take," from Proto-Germanic *nemanan (cf. Old Saxon, Old Dutch, Gothic niman, Old Norse nema, Old Frisian nima, German nehmen "to take"), from PIE root *nem- "to divide, distribute, allot," also "to take" (cf. Greek nemein "to deal out," nemesis "just indignation," Latin numerus "number," Lithuanian nuoma "rent, interest," Middle Irish nos "custom, usage"). With excrescent -b- from c.1500 (cf. limb (n.1)). Related: Nimbleness. In 17c., English had nimblechaps "talkative fellow."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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